Director: Pat Shively

Newsletter: Elizabeth Tabak

Web site: Jay Gordon, John Vogel


Press Day 2005


Home

Vital Links

Advisory board

Forms

Speakers' Schedule

Informational Articles

The ideal HS newspaper staff

The editorial page is your paper's conscience

Advertisements play a
vital role

Reach a wider audience with
an online paper

Student newspapers have
legal rights

Student newspapers have rights

The law governing high school newspapers is actually quite simple. Public school newspapers and those students who work on those papers do have First Amendment Rights. Unfortunately, the same rights do not apply to private schools.

The First Amendment, as you probably know, guarantees Americans with the freedom for speech and expression. The written word is interpreted as speech. In 1969, the United States Supreme Court said, “It can be argued that neither students nor teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” There is a little bit more to the story…

In 1988, in a case called “Hazelwood versus Kuhlmeier,” the U.S Supreme Court gave high school officials a little more power to sensor some school-sponsored student publications. But here is the good news: Hazelwood cannot be applied to newspapers that have been opened as “Public forums for student expression.” What it all means is that if your school – as a matter of practice – has allowed student editors to make content decisions, then your newspaper is a public forum for student expression.

In addition, it helps of your newspaper regularly runs letters to the editor and commentaries or comments from the student body. So, if your school newspaper can be called a public forum, the students who work on it are entitled to stronger First Amendment protections. The school officials cannot tell you what to run and what not to run unless they can show that publication of the material will cause “a material and substantial disruption” of school activities.

For more information and help, go to The Student Press Law Center (www.splc.org) On this website, you can research a great deal about the law of the student press. The Student Press Law Center will help you and your school if you become embroiled in a legal issue, or merely need legal advice.